Sad Music Paradox


By Izabella Santana

When people hear about Radiohead or My Chemical Romance, the last concept they are thinking about is comfort. Happy music is always associated with good feelings, but no one assumes sad music would give the same contentment.

However, in a recent study conducted by Liila Taruffi and Stefan Koelsch, researchers at University of Berlin, proved that sad music can act as a stimulant for comfort. Sad music may not always be the enforcer of depression, rather it is a way of coping with the sadness felt in daily life.

Depressing music is an outlet for being understood. Bands like Taking Back Sunday and Jimmy Eat World express overly emotional lyrics that are sometimes linked to depression. However, it is not the lyrics that make people depressed; it’s the people that are overall just depressed.

People blame music for causing depression, but sad music evokes nostalgia which is strongly linked to memories, according to Taruffi’s and Koalsch’s study. Some use sad music to remember memories whether they’re happy or not. Depression, nevertheless, is not one of the usual side effects of sad music. There could be some correlation between depressed people choosing sad music, but it’s not the most common case. People choose sad music to have an understanding of emotions they can’t figure out alone.

Sad music helps control unfavorable feelings, moods and contentment, said Taruffi in an interview with Dan Wilkinson for Noisy Music By Vice.

Melancholic melodies provide a source of expression for those who have a hard time expressing distress externally.

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By listening to these expressive and confessional lyrics, people can either come to terms with their dilemmas or relive memories that are stimulated by the bittersweetness of emotional music.

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